I was that bad.
Alright… this is embarrassing… but I need to admit something…
When I first started in TV news I was a terrible writer. How bad? So bad my weekend anchor, Jessica Layton, had to write a ‘Grammar Cheat Sheet’ for me.
I was a weekend reporter at WWNY in Watertown, NY in 2004. Back then, some of the sentences in my stories would read something like this: “The farmers told us they’re fields are ruined from the storm”.
Not only did I not know how to use the proper form of ‘their’ (and other words), but I also mixed past and present tense over and over and over [web producers at 9news.com will tell you I’m still guilty of this from time to time :o)]
It was awful. Not just awful, but really embarrassing. Here I was at a CBS News affiliate and I couldn’t even write properly.
Whenever I fail, I push myself to be better. Not just better, but the best.
As weird as I felt about Jessica handing me that cheat sheet, I graciously took it and studied it every single day.
During this time I also studied the work/writing of TV News reporters I admired such as Boyd Huppert from KARE-11 and Chris Vanderveen, who I work with at 9NEWS.
Every day I logged on to kare11.com and 9news.com and searched their names for new stories. It didn’t matter what the topic was, I would watch their work and study every single sentence they wrote.
Never give up.
By the time I took my second job at WSYR-TV, I knew how to use proper grammar and my writing had improved ten fold. I was fortunate to have a News Director like Scott Atkinson and an Assistant News Director like Anne Richter, who also taught me the art of good writing.
My work at WSYR-TV got me a job at KUSA-TV/9NEWS in Denver. When I started in 2009, I continued to study the work of Chris, Boyd and plenty of others. My assistant News Director, Tim Ryan, also offered me plenty of tips on my scripts. I couldn’t have asked for better mentors.
The Pay Off
Fast-forward to today. Over the weekend I won an Emmy Award for ‘Best Writer’ in the News Category. My competition included 9NEWS Reporter Nelson Garcia (whose writing is simply amazing) and Chris Vanderveen (who I’ve looked up to forever). If it were up to me, I would have given the award to Chris, but I know he’s won a ton of writing Emmys over the years.
The point of this blog is not to gloat. It’s to remind people to never give up. When things seem tricky, find a way to master them. I’m not a master writer, but one day I hope to be. Until then, I’m going to continue working hard by fine-tuning my writing and storytelling skills.
If you're interested in seeing the winning entry, click here.